Love is Slow: Part 2

Science moment of the week: According to Universe Today, in one hour the earth will have moved 1,040 miles. Because of an amazing, invisible force called gravity we are glued to planet Earth instead of flying off in to the Milky Way somewhere. It’s actually incredible if you think about it. The momentum at which we are traveling is actually preventing us from feeling the movement!

Is my momentum hindering me from feeling?

Am I aware of what is flying by me as I “spin through life?”

Is the rush affecting my rest?

Jesus said, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matt. 11:28).

Rest.
If asked to list some of the most fundamental spiritual disciplines, how many of us would have listed “rest?” I know, I know; if someone asked me what I did today, it’s a little uncomfortable when my answer is, “I rested.” I mean as a general rule, no one is going to tell you they are proud of you for resting.

Resting doesn’t sound very spiritual, but it is actually one of the most spiritual things we can do. We can freely rest because everything that absolutely has to be done (in order to accomplish our salvation), Jesus has already completed at the cross. “It if finished,” was His cry. We are now able to rest in the perfect life that He lived for us. We are not and never will be perfect in and of ourselves. So, we are called to rest in Christ’s perfect life and record that was transferred to us at the moment we first believed. Though we’ve sinned, Jesus’ perfect righteousness is now credited to our account. As a result, when God looks at us He doesn’t see our flaws and failures; rather, He only sees the blood and righteousness of His perfect Son, Jesus. The core of Christianity is this: we are not saved by what we do for God, but we are saved by what God has already done for us in Christ. Our souls no longer need to be weary from the broken cisterns of striving for perfection; instead, we can cease striving from our “works” and drink from living waters.

In addition, we are also called to rest physically.
Consider Jesus on the boat with the disciples during the storm. Do you remember what Jesus was doing in the middle of Hurricane Galilee? He wasn’t rushing around panicking and shouting out orders; instead, He was sleeping. He’s at rest, at peace – even in the midst of the storm. While everyone else is losing their minds, Jesus takes a nice little cat-nap. This in many ways characterizes much of Jesus’ ministry: a seemingly restful, slow, concentrated, love-the-person-in-front-of-you kind of pace.

For us, resting might look like watching a movie, eating ice cream, running, reading a good book, listening to music, journaling, napping, hiking, sitting, enjoying a cup of coffee, golfing, or going to dinner with a friend. These can all be ways of resting. Think of a few things that recharge your batteries and then make a plan to incorporate those into your daily rhythms. For me it’s a movie night with the hubs or reading a good book.

Gifts
When I slow down, I am much more aware of all the blessings around me. Butterflies dancing over flowers, birds chirping, and our kids’ laughter in the background can all be overlooked in the rush. So often, all we hear is “hurry!!!” Alarms, cell phones, oven-timers, incoming emails – they’re all telling us to get a move on it!
Loving slow makes me stop and smell the roses. I see beauty where there was chaos. Do you remember those 3D posters? You know, the ones where it looks like one thing until you stare at it up close and then it turns into something completely different? When we slow down and start looking intently into what God has placed in our laps, we begin to see beauty in the most unexpected places. What may seem like an interruption can quickly become a grace of God. What seems like an ordinary day can become a masterpiece.

I enjoy giving gifts to my kids. It blesses my heart when they acknowledge that it came from me and they enjoy it. God is the greatest gift giver of all time, and He receives glory when we acknowledge that every good and perfect gift is from Him. He receives glory when we acknowledge His beauty all around us – the beauty of relationships, creation, ideas, changed lives, good food, etc. When we are delighting in creation and the gifts He has given us, we are in many ways delighting in Him. However, the only way that we’ll ever be able to truly gaze upon these wonderful gifts is to slow down and take a look around.

Being aware of His loving-kindness around me, and seeking to love more slowly helps me to have a grateful heart. When I am rushing around I start losing “feeling.” My senses start to fade, and I do not see as clearly. My momentum is literally keeping my eyes on myself, instead of my Maker. May we join together in constantly practicing His presence, looking for His hand in all things.

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Miley Cyrus: Twerkin and TRUTH

Last night at the VMA’s, Miley Cyrus wanted her audience to know one thing: she’s a “big girl” now. The innocent little “Hannah Montana” that we all once knew is now nothing more than a memory. The risqué “grabbing”-twerkin-jerkin-random-teddy bears-tongue and “sweaty bodies everywhere” seemed to shock even the most seasoned of celebrities (check out the faces on Drake and Taylor Swift).

However, the thing that shocked me the most wasn’t so much the promiscuous escapade this young 20-year old girl put on in front of millions of people; what surprised me the most was the fact that Miley Cyrus was speaking the truth – well, kind of.
Here are some of her lyrics:
It’s our party we can do what we want
It’s our party we can say what we want
It’s our party we can love who we want
We can kiss who we want
We can see who we want (2x)
Red cups and sweaty bodies everywhere
Hands in the air like we don’t care
Cause we came to have so much fun now
Bet somebody here might get some now
If you’re not ready to go home
Can I get a hell no
Cause we gonna go all night
Till we see the sunlight alright
So la da di da di, we like to party
Dancing with Miley
Doing whatever we want
This is our house
This is our rules
And we can’t stop
And we won’t stop
Can’t you see it’s we who own the night
Can’t you see it we who bout’ that life
And we can’t stop
And we won’t stop
Believe it or not, Miley is exactly right. “She can’t stop and she won’t stop.” Like each of us, left to ourselves outside of Christ, the Bible teaches that we are “dead in our sin” and that we are “following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air” (Eph. 2:2). In other words, when it comes to living out the lustful desires of this world and our flesh, “We can’t stop,” and “We won’t stop.” Have you ever seen a corpse get up out of a coffin? No, they are dead. In the same way, as spiritually dead sinners outside of Christ, we cannot and will not stop living the life of an “all night” party consumed with the things that are displeasing to God.
Miley is not the first to have her “Disney star gone bad” moment.
Britney Spears (although retro now) had “Hit me baby one more time.” Christina was a “Genie in a Bottle.” Selena has an open invitation for, “When you are ready, come and get it.”

They each choose different wording, but the fundamental message is the same: “We are all grown up now and free to behave however we choose.” This so called “freedom” is a lie. For example, Britney Spears was right when she sang, “I’m a slave.” In John 8:34, Jesus says, “Truly, truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.” The Bible teaches that this so-called freedom to live as we please is actually indicative of the fact that we are in shackles to our own pleasure – a pleasure that is fleeting and that ultimately leads to brokenness and destruction.
At the end of the day, being a slave to mere self-gratification leads to “self hangovers.” Yes, the party is fun; that’s why we do it. The problem is, too much is never enough. Once we begin to seek to satisfy the desires of our flesh, the appetite only increases and is never ultimately appeased. We can have all the sex, drugs, money, and fun right that this world has to offer. And sure, for a while, it will satisfy. However, over the course of a person’s life (typically sooner than later), we begin to realize there is still something missing.
Have you noticed we are never satisfied? We lose 10 pounds, but we want to lose ten more. We get a promotion, but within a few months we can’t get our eyes off the next step up the ladder. Whatever we’re receiving now, we often live under the false assumption that just a bit more would finally satisfy.
Scripture is clear that each of us have sinned (Rom. 3:23). In essence, sin our declaration, “Yeah God, I know you made me, but ‘it’s my party and I can say what I want, do what I want, and kiss who I want.” The problem is, it’s not really our party. It’s Gods party and He can and will do what He wants. He is the King, and He created us not for our own glory and recognition, but for His own. The greatest commandment He has given us is to love Him with all of our heart, soul, and mind. Anytime we say we are simply going to do what we want, we are grabbing the apple off of the tree and loving ourselves more than the Creator.
Miley is exactly right, “only God can Judge ya.” The fact is, for those of us outside of Christ, He is judging us right now, and in some sense, has judged us already (John 3:18). The call of the Gospel is to turn from self and turn to Christ. We can’t do what we want and please God at the same time. We can only go to His party if we are in with his Son, Jesus.
All of the things we are enjoying in this life – people, places, food, etc., are made to point us to the Creator. All of our cravings, desires, dreams, and pursuits are to lead you to the One who made you. Instead of worshipping the Creator, we so easily “throw our hands in the air like we don’t care” and worship the creation. All of the sex, money, fame, and success, are utterly incapable of finally satisfying us. We can live with the “It’s my party” attitude, but it will only lead to depression and frustration. It is a futile effort to ask and expect broken people, places and things to satisfy a longing in our hearts that only our Maker can fulfill.
My heart literally hurt for Miley last night. What I saw was a young lady that is filled with an inner restlessness – a young lady that is looking for attention and affirmation in all of the wrong places.
Several years ago Miley gave an interview for Good Morning America where she told the reporter she spent time reading her bible every day. I remember praying for her faith that day. Still today, my prayer for Miley is that she would come to see that there is a heavenly Father who longs to love and affirm her, not because of how she dances on stage, but because He made her in His image, for His glory – a heavenly Father who has numbered the hairs on her head, and desires to call her His daughter.
St. Augustine said, “My heart is restless until it finds its rest in Thee.” May Miley find her rest not in the spotlight and via the applauds of men, but may Miley find her rest in the One who seeks to rescue her with his own blood.
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Love is Slow

They say, “Love is slow.”

Really? Slow?! How does “slow” operate in the fast-paced world we live in? Let’s be real – there are things that need to get done (now, not later).

Jesus came to show us how to love. He was able to love slow even while He was in the middle of rescuing the entire world: healing the lepers, giving sight to the blind, casting demons out of two scantily dressed men in the cemetery, etc. Consider the leper. I can’t picture Jesus saying to the leper, “Sorry bro, I just don’t have time; I’ve got another meeting that starts in fifteen minutes” (as He’s checking his text messages).

Jesus never seemed to be in a rush. After a full day of taking care of business (and yes, he would have been physically and emotionally exhausted) Jesus sits down and takes the time to hang out with a bunch of little kids. You think your 5 year old asks a lot of questions? “Why this; why that?” Imagine being the Man that has just walked on water and raised a dead man back to life; you think the kids had a long-list of questions for Jesus? You think he had to say a lot of extra prayers for all of their little individual “boo boos?” Of course, and yet He takes time for them.

In this day and age, “slow” does not get any pats on the back. The culture is exclaiming, “Do more. Do more! Not only is the cultural pace utterly furious, but our own insecurities drive us to compare ourselves to other moms and wives who seem to be accomplishing so much more. It’s our own productivity-driven version of keeping up with the Jones’.

Let’s be honest; nobody remembers the slowest runner in the race. Who finished last in the 800-meter dash in the winter Olympics? I have no idea; and neither do you.

No one browses through Target in search of the slowest hair dryer. The car dealers are not selling the 25 year old the slowest car of the year. The guy at the Apple Store certainly isn’t trying to see you the slowest computer. Your husband and children will rarely say to you, “Just slow down and take your time on getting dinner on the table.”

We have a need for speed. High-speed internet (remember the “dial-up” days?). My husband is on his way to Cedar Point, the largest amusement park in the world. He keeps telling me about this ride that goes 124 miles per hour! If that’s not enough, he and his friends bought a “Super Fast Pass” on top of that that lets them pass everybody else and go to the front of the line every single time!

Fast-drying nail polish, fastest route to a destination on the GPS. Our local crafts store (Hobby Lobby) had Christmas decorations out in July! You can purchase 4th of July and Christmas decorations all at the same time. We rush through seasons and can’t even enjoy them.

When it comes to the kiddos, it’s not much better. I find myself rushing my children through stages of their lives. I couldn’t wait until my babies started sleeping through the night. I rushed them out of diapers. When school was in session, I could not wait for summer. When it was summer, I could not wait for school to start.

Recently, I have been convicted over how quickly I try to put the kids to bed. I have perfected the art of skipping entire pages in books without anyone noticing (don’t act like you haven’t done it). Nobody ends up enjoying the process; it’s stinking pandemonium.

“I just do not feel like I am enjoying the kids!” I tell my husband. The truth is I am not enjoying them because I am rushing. I am viewing them as interruptions in my life. However, by God’s grace, I want to change! I want to slow down and enjoy what God has given me. After all, we only get our little ones for a few short years, and then we look up and they’re gone. The old saying is so true; the days are long, but the years are short.

It always happens; it’s 4:30pm and I am in the process of preparing a somewhat healthy meal for our family (yes, we are old people that eat and go to sleep 2-3 hours before everybody else; don’t hate). In the middle of cutting onion, I hear a scream. Now this isn’t just any scream, this is scream on steroids and sounds of utter chaos – possible toys and/or body parts flying. Now I have the choice: do I intervene, or do I let the three siblings have a “Hunger Games” type of showdown? Is this an interruption? Sadly, most of the time I view such instances as just that – annoying interruptions to my time-sensitive progress. My production is going to be slowed down, the onions will not cut themselves. If my production is slowed down, I have nothing to show for my work. If I have nothing to show for my work, I am a failure.

At the end of the day, God is sovereign and I thoroughly believe that He works all things together for my good. Why do I not believe that all of these distractions and interruptions are for my good? God has allowed this particular “inconvenience” in my life for a reason. He is interrupting me from my “productivity,” because sometimes He is more concerned with producing something in our hearts than He is seeing us produce something in the kitchen.

Have we ever thought about it this way? What if God is the one intentionally forcing us to slow down?

I know we’re after productivity (which seems like such a noble aspiration), but what if genuine and long-lasting productivity was not measured by a to-do list or a spreadsheet? What if the kind of productivity that God values the most means being present(really present) with those around us; slowing down; making eye contact. What if productivity is laughing with our children, picking flowers, reading a good book (not page skipping), another game of hide and seek, or just cuddling? All throughout the New Testament, Jesus models for us this kind of slow love. He valued the person over the project. He valued the soul over the spreadsheet, and the leper over the “list” that was 3 pages long.

Way too much of our life is merely a checklist. When we get it done, we’ve been successful. Six loads of laundry done. Check. Dinner cooked. Check. Discipled young woman. Check. Bible study. Check. Sex. Check.

Ladies, we are probably not going to get any pats on the back for building a stellar Lego castle, but the Lord sees it, and someday our kids will remember it (and be thankful).

Remember moms, our kids are watching us. By watching us, they’re learning something true, or not true, about Jesus. We are just like messy little children. We have nothing to offer Him but our messes and dirty hands, and yet He says, “Come to me.” We are not interrupting Him. He desires to cover us with His love. No, we have not loved those around us perfectly today, but we have a Savior who has loved perfectly. Jesus, please help me to slow down and to rest in the work you accomplished on a bloody tree 2,000 years ago. Jesus, even as you said, “It is finished,” and sat down at the right hand of God the Father, teach me to learn to say, “It is finished” at the end of the day, and to sit down and enjoy your unending love for me, regardless of how much I did or did not “produce” today.

Beautiful Scars: How the Miss Teen USA pageant saved my life. (sisters blog)

Great word from my little sister, Kelly Beth:

 

I am convinced that eating disorders are one of the most silent yet deadly diseases circulating the world today.  The South Carolina Department of Health estimates that, “8 million American’s have an eating disorder,” and “nearly half of all Americans personally know someone with an eating disorder.” I was one of those 8 million.

The first time I remember having ill thoughts towards my body was when I was in the 6thgrade. It all steamed from a rather large scar on my lower abdomen from where two large cancerous tumors were removed.  No one ever bullied me or told me it was ugly, but they didn’t have to. I saw images on the television, on the  cover of magazines in grocery store aisles, and on billboards of who the world esteemed as beautiful. All I knew is that my stomach looked a whole lot different from the images portrayed.  I wanted to be beautiful and so, I thought I had to change my appearance in order to achieve the kind of beauty I saw in the media. This was one of the very first lies I believed from Satan. Yet still, God was whispering truth to me through His written word, along side or my family and close Christian friends.

“I can’t eat that.” Those four words began filling my head on a daily basis. I aggressively started limiting what I ate with the sole purpose of losing weight. As with any other addiction, once you start it is very difficult to stop.  Over time, I developed a distorted image of myself.  In counseling I learned that this is called the body dysmorhpic disorder. I could tell you stories upon stories of the terrible things I did to lose weight, but I do not believe that will be beneficial. It was just very evident at this point in my life that my number one concern was with one thing: ME. My body image was at the forefront of every thought and I was willing to do whatever it took to achieve the world’s view of perfection.

Flash forward 5 years and there I was lying on the hospital bed with another scar on my stomach from an appendectomy surgery. It actually got infected leaving an even bigger scar.  The Lord reminded me, though I could not possibly understand it at the time, that no tear will ever be wasted and he had a plan for yes, even this scar. Little did I know He would use these marks on my body to humble me, remind me of the preciousness of life and continually sanctify me and give me a story to tell of His beautiful grace. I think He was constantly trying to get my attention. “Kelly Beth, what defines beauty for you? If it is the world than it will always be changing, you will never be able to keep up! But if it is me, then, my dear you are already there. You are beautiful because I made you and you are mine.”  Unfortunately, these huge revelations only lasted for a little time and I was back to my old ways. God was so very patient with me.

Growing up, I watched my sister compete in many pageants.  I always vowed I would never do one because walking in high heels and wearing a pound of make-up were just  “not my thing.”  However, after a 30 minute conversation with my sister, Annie,  and learning more about what pageants entail, I opted to compete in the Miss Illinois Teen USA pageant. Now I had an excuse to eat healthier (aka not eat) and work out more. Plus, I could get away with it because I was preparing for a pageant…Right!? I continued restricting food and working out like a maniac at the gym. At one point, one of the gym managers told me he thought I was doing way too much cardio and needed to call it a night. Finally, it was time for the pageant. I arrived there only to learn I was competing against something like 190 other girls from the state of Illinois. I thought to myself, “There is no way I will ever win this thing, so I am just going to have fun with it!” As it turns out, I ended up winning the entire thing. It was completely and surprisingly unexpected.

After winning, I began preparing for The Miss Teen USA 2005 pageant. The pressure was on at this point. The thought of wearing a bikini on national television was more than enough motivation/pressure to make me work like a crazy person to get in the best shape ever. At the same time I was obsessing about working out and eating “healthy,” I was speaking at church conferences and encouraging young girls to find their confidence in Christ and not seek their identity in the eyes of the world. Too bad I wasn’t believing the truth I was preaching. The well-known verse from Proverbs about beauty, “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised,” is one I often shared with others, but took very little time to meditate on myself. The Lord was constantly convicting my soul through my daily time spent in the word, but at the time, I was not ready to let go, I was not ready to surrender all of my wants and desires before the Father. I thought my way was best.

Flash forward to the Miss Teen USA 2005 pageant. We arrived there about two or three weeks before it was to go live on national television. We had the opportunity to work with professional choreographers and photographers, as well as attend a whole slew of events.  I am not gonna lie, it is still one of the most exciting times of my life, one of which it was truly an honor and a privilege to be a part of,  but there was a dark shadow quietly hovering over those weeks. My eating disorder was with me wherever I went, constantly telling me that I wasn’t as pretty or skinny as the other girls and that  I wasn’t enough. I hate thinking about how much time I wasted thinking about myself. It literally disgusts me. I would pray every night while I was there that Jesus would take this burden away and that he would make me content with the way He made me. Even though I felt alone in my struggle, I knew Jesus was near.

The night before the pageant was to go live I broke down in my parents hotel room. I confessed to them that I had been struggling with an eating disorder for quite sometime and I needed help. I am sure they were shocked because I was able to keep it a secret for so long. See, that is what Satan always wanted. He desired for me to keep it a secret so I wouldn’t get help. He didn’t want me to experience freedom. I think I smacked him in the face that night when I reached out for help and I felt a whole heck of a lot better after I did!

When my name was called for 3rd runner up, I went up to accept my flowers and looked across the thousands of people in the audience and saw my sister. I kid you not, it was as if a spot light was shinning on her. She was pointing up to heaven with a confident grin on her face. I knew what that grin meant. “This is God’s plan. This is not a mistake.” The Miss Teen USA pageant was a wonderful experience. It provided me with so many opportunities to grow as an individual and encourage my peers. Ironically, however,  it did something that might surprise many. It saved me. I believe God used the Miss Teen USA pageant to save me from myself. My eating disorder got so bad that eventually I had to tell someone.  And I did. I finally told my parents.

The next few years were quite a painful journey. There seasons when I experienced freedom, but soon would be followed by a relapse into the darkness of my previous ways. Some of my most painful memories were during those times. I would cry myself to sleep at night and wake myself crying in the morning, begging God to heal me, begging him to take this burden away.  I went through a few  outpatient programs at various treatment centers both locally and out-of-state. At many points, not only was I struggling with an eating disorder, but I was fighting clinical depression, as well. I honestly don’t know which one came first, all I knew is that I was miserable and I could not imagine a life free of this, but I wanted it oh so badly.

In my darkest hours, I felt the Lord near me. He was constantly trying to get my attention and reminding me of my great worth in His eyes.  ”Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.” (1 Peter 3:3-4) “But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)

A lot of healing came through months and months of confessing and prayer. I started opening up to my family and friends and asking them to pray for me. I had difficulty functioning in college, not only with the eating disorder, but also battling the many health problems I had from having cancer multiple times. I moved back in with my parents during many seasons of my life. I am so grateful for the amazing, kind, patient, loving and supportive parents who handled and accepted my “messiness” with so much grace and prayer. They loved me in such a way that pointed me towards the unconditional love of my heavenly Father. The Lord also blessed me with amazing, godly friendships, who were always a phone call away. I found that healing for any addiction or sin issue can not be done apart from community and fellowship, for they provide you with a specific accountability that you can get on your own.

At one point, I became so consumed with myself and having the perfect body that I actually set up an appointment to see a plastic surgeon to “fix” my stomach. After meeting with him he explained that he would be very hesitant to do the surgery. He said, “Because you are clearly still battling an eating disorder, if I did the surgery, you would, more than likely, either not be satisfied with it, or find something else you wouldn’t like about your body.” I do not know if this surgeon was a man of God, but the Lord used this doctor to speak truth into my life. More than likely, if I had what I wanted: “the perfect stomach,” I would find something else I didn’t like about my body and the cycle would continue. I am so thankful for the honesty of this surgeon. What a gift to my life.  About two or three months after I met with the surgeon, I relapsed again.  I decided to enroll in an outpatient program for eating disorders that was provided by the college I attended. I am so grateful for the amazing counselors the Lord always seemed to provide me with. I was never alone.  And then, something crazy happened….again.

I was sitting at a coffee shop reading a book and I began to have a mini stroke. At the time, I had no idea. I mean, how many 22 year olds do you know who have strokes on a regular basis. A long serious of events occurred before we found out why and how it happened, but there I awoke on a hospital bed in Charleston, South Carolina after having open-heart surgery. The stroke (s) were caused by a benign tumor camping out on my mitral valve. Another large scar on my body and this time more visible. “What the heck are you up to God?” After the anesthesia had worn off, I confessed to my mom that I had been starving myself again. Because I believe that my God is sovereign over all things, I know that this “open-heart surgery thing” had not taken him by surprise, and it was a part of his plan. I believe the Lord used this surgery to wake me up and to serve as a reminder that we are only given one life on this earth.   And most importantly, my body doesn’t even belong to me, it belongs to Christ and so, I must take care of it! If this surgery hadn’t taken place, I truly believe I would have continued in my eating disorder and ultimately, probably would have died. In case you don’t know, people die from eating disorders. The South Carolina Department of Mental Health states, “The mortality rate associated with anorexia nervosa is 12 times higher than the death rate of ALL causes of death for females 15 – 24 years old.”

Just like any struggle, battle or addiction, I had to set up boundaries for myself. To some people they may sound  silly, but they are what helped me and prevent me from relapsing. Some of them include limiting myself to how much and the type of media I take in on a daily basis. For example, sometimes seeing everyone’s perfect looking life on Facebook and Instagram is too much for me and so, I have to limit my time on there. Also, I don’t keep certain fashion magazines and catalogs lying around my house. Dozens of girls have contacted me throughout the years asking, “How did you do it? How did you overcome an eating disorder?” Unfortunately, there is not a quick fix I can offer up. And really and truly the best answer I can give is Jesus.  Obviously, there were some practical things I did on a regular basis that helped aid in the healing process, but everyone’s journey is different and I do not believe there is a special formula. I will share some things I found to be helpful:

1. Reading God’s word on a regular basis
2. Spending time in prayer
3. Seeking out medical help (doctor, dietician, counselor)
4. Listening to gospel filled sermons
5. Reading good books (John PiperDavid Platt, Ann VoskampPaul David Tripp,Elyse FitzpatrickElizabeth Elliot,  C.S. Lewis, and JI Packer are a few of my favorite authors here lately)
6. Getting plugged in at a church
7. Accountability partners
8. Surrounding yourself with people who love God and love you
9. Get in the habit of telling on yourself- Have at least one or two people you trust that you can confide in when you are in the midst of your struggle Example: If you get the urge to purge after a huge binge, you can call this person before you do it and have them pray with you or even come over and be with you until the desire passes
10. Get off Facebook, Instagram, Twitter- I know it sounds extreme, but if you are serious about getting over this you will take extreme measures to cut stuff out of your life that causes you to focus on YOUR  BODY. It doesn’t have to be a forever thing, just a for now thing. :)
11. Get outside and enjoy God’s beautiful nature-Go on a hike, go swimming, go for a walk with a friend! The sun does wonders for your soul and so does getting a little active.
12. Be confident that you are never alone. God is near. Know that your life is never too messy for God. He has a plan and purpose for your life and He will never give up on His children.

I hope I haven’t fooled you into thinking I lead a life completely free of wanting to change things about myself. However, the Lord has freed me from the life-destructive habits and thoughts of an eating disorder. It did not take place overnight and it was a very very painful process, but God is always faithful to His children and overtime, He freed my soul. He also is continually reminding me of just how silly it is to be consumed by my outer appearance. This body is only temporary. And thank goodness for that, because over the past few years I have accumulated another set of scars from more cancer surgeries.  Our ultimate destination is to be with Christ in heaven. If I am constantly thinking about myself, then I am missing opportunities to serve, love and encourage those around me. Let us never ever forget that He made us EXACTLY the way we are for a PURPOSE. Let me repeat: He made you EXACTLY the way you are for a PURPOSE. Oh Lord, please teach us to be grateful for the body and life you have given us and stop trying to look like the not-so-real-because-they-have-been-edited bodies we see on the television screen. Amen.

Can I be honest? I believe a TON of people are walking around with eating disorders and are one, in denial or two, don’t believe that they could possibly have one. If you or someone you know has an eating disorder, please know that there is HOPE and His name is Jesus. The Lord is a miraculous healer. Nothing is too big for Him. Do not think that you are a lost cause. God will never and I mean NEVER give up on you.

Here are some links, if you are interested, to gain a better understanding of what an eating disorder is and the great harm it causes.

What is an eating disorder? 
NY Times Article on eating disorders
Dangerous Effects of Eating Disorders

This is one of the questionnaire’s some doctors use to determine if their patient has an eating disorder. I found it very helpful.

Scoff Questionnaire:

Do you make yourself Sick because you feel uncomfortably full? Do you worry you have lost Control over how much you eat? Have you recently lost more than 14 pounds in a 3-month period? Do you believe yourself to be Fat when others say you are too thin? Would you say that Food dominates your life? Answering yes to two of these questions is a strong indicator of an eating disorder.

To Follow Kelly Beth’s blog click here. 

Arrows and Xena Warrior Princess

Before rolling out of bed this morning I had this profound thought: “I must be Xena the Warrior Princess!” Now I know Xena is totally retro, and I am sure there are many other strong princess warriors out there today but I must embody Xena.
Before you start freaking out that the pastor’s wife is going to start dressing scantily, plesae let me explain.
Growing up I had a romantic idea of being a mom. I thought motherhood would be a lot like one of those beautiful paintings where the mom is gazing out a window watching her well-dressed children dance around the rose bushes as butterflies dance in the midst. Additionally, I envisioned that motherhood would be comparable to “Mary Poppins” and I would have a magic bag always at my disposal that would resolve any issue. There would be dancing and singing through the house with random cartoon figures, flying kites, and delightful times of feeding the birds. There would be countless amazing adventures. Anytime a problem would arise I would simply pull out a big spoon filled with sugar and in the blink of an eye, everything would be peachy. Oh, and also, don’t forget that all I need to do is snap my fingers and the house instantaneously cleans itself up – simply astonishing!
Pardon my grammar, but any parent who knows the reality of parenthood knows that it ain’t no Mary Poppins’ world. Now don’t get me wrong, there is plenty of dancing and singing and even the occasional adventure. However, generally speaking, the typical day is best described by the word mundane – oh how quickly do I get bored with the “everydayness” of life. Frequently, I have found myself thinking, “I did not go to college to be a Legos engineer” (speaking of Legos, if I step on one more of those stupid things this preacher’s wife is gonna go crazy!”) However, the problem is we have not embraced our inner Xena. Yes, life can be mundane, but it does not have to be boring!!!
God’s Word says this about our lives in Psalm 127:3-5, “Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.”
Children are a reward! They are not an inconvenience, or mere leeches that suck the life out of us. They are not “comfort” thieves. Our kiddos are not burdens, they are blessings from God.
Have you ever wondered why the Psalmist chose to use the word “arrows” to describe children? I mean he could have used something a little cuter – you know, like sheep or puppies (golden retrievers, in particular). Yet he chose an instrument of war – arrows are fierce!
We do not live in a land of make-believe; this is a land of war. In fact, the Apostle Paul characterizes the Christian’s life as a continual battle. He says in Ephesians 6:12, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkenss, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” It doesn’t sound like Candy Land, and it certainly doesn’t sound like Mayberry.
In essence, each day when our children go to school, they are walking into a war zone. When they go to the Friday night football game, they are walking into a battle. When our teenage daughters walk through the mall and pass the posters in Victoria’s Secret screaming at them that they must be a size 2 in order to be beautiful an accepted, they are having bullets from the enemy shot at their hearts. When our boys sit down in front of their I-Pads in their rooms, and millions of pornographic websites are only one click away, they are sitting in the presence of a demon-infested war – a war of which many of them will not spiritually survive.
Do we want our children to grow up to be warriors? Are we training them for battle? I admit sometimes I fall into the trap of wanting to have “successful” children. Sports, grades, manners, talents; we want our children to be great, but are we pushing them towards true greatness – to be warriors for King Jesus?
I want my children to be “Arrow Children,” ready for war. If they are arrows, I want them to do some serious damage to the enemy. How amazing would it be to have my children standing at the gate with me – fighting our enemy together? Battles with arrows flying always makes me think of CS Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia. We recently watched this movie with our children and of course, they loved it. I must admit I got a little misty-eyed towards the end of the battle when James yells out, “Mommy! Narnia is going to win!” In light of this incredible spiritual battle that we are all facing together as a family, I long to hear my children shouting out, “Mom! We are going to win!”
According to “the Google,” as my husband likes to call it, there are three parts to every arrow. However, the part that is the most destructive is the arrowhead. If am a warrior princess in battle against the enemy, I want to take the arrowhead and make it as sharp as possible. The way the head is sharpened most effectively is by continually pointing our children to Jesus and His Gospel.
I cannot save my children, only Jesus can; however, I can pray for them. Not piddly little prayers, but warrior prayers. I can beg of Christ, the Chief Warrior, to save my children for his own name and fame. I can beg Him that they would see His amazing love and bow down and worship Him. In great faith, I can ask Jesus to protect them against the schemes of the enemy. After all, Jesus knows Satan’s schemes better than anyone and has already disarmed him and shamed him at the cross (Colossians 2).
I am so grateful for Jani Orland, with Renewal Ministries, for mentoring me. Every woman needs another woman in their life that has gone before them and has already walked the path we are now walking. A few days ago I asked Jani for some ideas as to how I can be intentional with my little “arrows.” I was expecting a long list of things – from catechisms, to making them memorize a verse a week, etc. Instead, Jani simply said that more than anything, my kids need to see me love Jesus.
Wow! I can have my kids memorize the Word and know all the catechisms, but if they do not see me treasuring Jesus, they’ve received mixed messages, and I’ve only left them incredibly confused (and great candidates to be Pharisees). When our children see mommy reading the Word, they will be curious. When our children see us bowing in prayer, we are showing them where are treasure is. When we sing praise songs around the house, our kids are learning there is only One who is worthy of praise.
Have you ever been around someone who loves Jesus and it’s just obvious? What is it about them that makes it so obvious?
It takes a warrior. When my children look at me I not only want them to see someone who loves Christ, but equally as important, I want them to see a woman who understands that Christ loves her. The greatest warriors aren’t merely those who love, but it’s those who are keenly aware of how much they have been loved. Ladies, let’s love Jesus, and let’s embrace Jesus love for us, and let’s allow our children to watch and learn.
So girlfriends, wake up, get ready for battle and get your warrior princess on!
“IIyyyy-IIyyy-Iiyyyy!!!!!!!!!!!” (that’s my warrior call)
If you would like to get updates on this series, follow me on Twitter @AnnieEdwards01